Thursday, December 31, 2009

shade of blue

Blue moon near the dark of the year; blues in its light. All the talk at the coffee shop of the fear of flight, fear of flyers, fear of the night, fear of failure, fear of success, sellers and buyers, smart fellers under duress. Guarded cheer of Happy New Year's, blue as the sight of bar light reflected in tears. But blue, too, is the color of dawn; something new, something to go on.

~ RM

blue moon tonight, 31 Dec. '09
last blue moon: 30 June '07
next blue moon: 31 Aug. '12

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Ya. Good morning. Merry Christmas.

Get up now.

Your ma's milking cows

since before five.

Ya. Since she put presents

under the tree.

We'll go in the truck

and haul silage from the other place

before church.

Ya, it's cold.

Ya, just a couple minutes then.

Eat quick.

We gotta go.

You know she's gonna sing

in the choir today.

Ya. Good morning. Merry Christmas.

Get up now.

The cows gotta eat.

We'll clean the barn later.

Get up now.

~ Ralph Murre

old drawing;

new poem

Monday, December 21, 2009



Brown trucks and white, with red and blue;
trucks of indeterminate hue carrying, cross-continental,
and to Tupelo and Wichita,
mountains, monumental, of stuff: mundane,
sentimental stuff bearing the urgent message,
I have not forgotten -
that you’re hungry, that you love, that you ordered,
that I owe, that I love, that our love bordered on a need,
not greed, so I am sending, from a catalog from Texas,
some smoked meats to Vermont, sweets,
from San Francisco to Duluth, floor mats, taupe,
for a Lexus, vermouth from someplace to someplace else,
hoping, against hope, that your order is filled,
your stomach is filled, your wishes fulfilled,
you’ll love me still, for a while, and hoping, too,
for something in return; things not returned, spurned,
things not carried by truck: a good thought, luck,
oh-you-shouldn’t-have but, really, you must send hope
on wings of a dream, or a joke, a smile
on wisps of blue smoke; make it worthwhile.
I have not forgotten -
too much; not forgotten you . . . your style.

~Ralph Murre

old poem;

new drawing

Monday, December 14, 2009


I have, at long last, found a solution to the problem posed by the ocean of debt which engulfs our nation. Thanks for waiting. It turns out, according to numerous emails which I receive every day, that I have won a great many lotteries and have vast sums of money ready to be deposited to my account from people around the world who are just looking for ways to send funds to the U.S. ! By my cursory calculations, I believe that I, alone, am due several billions of dollars and/or pounds sterling. Am I alone in my willingness to give a good bit of this to the good old U.S.A.? I'll bet not. I'll bet there are many Righteous Americans, like myself, who would gladly receive all those funds which have been promised us, much of which seems to come from Africa (?), and give, perhaps as much as 50% to our government to help get us through this national crisis.
What do you say? How much of your spam money is simply lying there, mouldering in some foreign account, because you haven't been able to think how you might use the extra cash? Do your bit for your country, my fellow Americans! By the way, if you have trouble figuring out exactly how to direct these funds, due to the complexities of our vast government, just send them here and I will certainly assist.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

perhaps . . .

perhaps just our luck
that brought us this one condor
beyond its season
~ arem

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

November / December

In this grey season and latitude, any reason will suffice to find some nice bit of color. Duller days yet may follow, but I'll allow some piece of brighter hue to bring a lighter side of me to you. And next time, I'll try to do without the crime of some childish rhyme or platitude. ~ RM

Monday, November 30, 2009

. . . a word from our sponsor . . .

Take a look, if you've the time and inclination, at the (finally) operable web site of Little Eagle Press; try a few of the links to learn about the books we're publishing. Who knows, you may even like to own one! (That exclamation point was to show how savvy I am in the world of marketing. Can you feel the excitement?) click

Sunday, November 22, 2009

All de Live-Long Day (and night)

Tata tump
Tata tump
Tata tump

Train cars
Cross a switch
In the dun
Of Montana autumn
As the sun
Of Montana autumn
Behind purple cloud
Shrouding mountains

On a train called Empire Builder
Engine pawing ground
Toward Puget Sound
Contemplate empire
As you travel
Thousands of idle
Rail cars, semis
Full of nothing
The short lives
Of empires

Whether Roman
Or rail

~ Ralph Murre

Monday, November 16, 2009

To the Wolves

To the Wolves

It’s always been a problem, this name; usually taken as a verb –
to Ralph, synonymous with “to hurl”. Not good to be named
for an act of regurgitation no matter how liberal your outlook.

But I’ve learned that Ralph also means “wolf counsel”,
according to the people who keep track of silver-lining meanings
in cloud-black names given to innocent children,

and “wolf counsel” is something I might have worked with
if I’d known – I might have taken a few wolves aside, for instance,
might have mentioned their ill-deserved reputation for eating people,

might have said, look – it’s against my counseling ethic to TELL
you to eat people, you understand,
but why have the name if you can’t play the game?

And then I might have named a few people they could start on,
which, of course, wouldn’t have been very professional of me,
but there are so many people and so few wolves

and some of the people eat Little Red Riding Hoods for breakfast,
and brown ones, and black ones, while wolves make do with mice.
And if I had known that Ralph means wolf counsel

I might have said, hey – the sheep’s clothing just isn’t you,
because I would have taken this counseling business very seriously
and I would have advised on fashion, as well as diet.

And I might have counseled against the use of the word “pack”,
because it has bad connotations, and I might have warned them
not to always be “at the door”, because that’s so cliché.

Sometimes, I think, they might want to be “at the window”.
And I might have mentioned that we can spot them from quite a distance,
even when they’re disguised as grandmothers.

And I would have done all of my wolf counseling pro bono,
because I like the sound of that, even if it doesn’t pay well,
and because I think they’d be impressed by my use of Latin,

even if my name is Ralph.

- Ralph Murre

That's another old one, which appeared in my first book, "Crude Red Boat", from Cross+Roads Press.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Where does the wind come from?

So that grandchildren will not have their heads filled (by their parents) with crazy ideas about the source of the wind . . .

Trees listen very, very carefully.
They hear the things which we can barely dream.
And sometimes they hear music.
Only trees and tall grass and water
can hear these tunes.
And the music is so good,
that the trees can’t help but dance!
An oak or cedar or birch,
its feet deep in the earth,
does not dance in the same way
as a whale or dog or person,
but it can sway its mighty body and shoulders
to the rhythm.
Not much happens when tall grass dances,
but when whole forests of trees
begin to dance,
they stir up great winds.
These winds carry the quiet music
to other forests of trees and prairies of grass
and oceans of water.
Soon, they are all dancing
to the music
which even whales and dogs and people
cannot hear.

We must be very quiet near trees
and tall grass and water,
so they can hear the music.

- Ralph Murre

O.K., that's an old one, but maybe as good as anything I'm writing these days . . .

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Hey, Poet –
You get beyond my ken
you understand
and then, my care.
I wonder still
whose ear or will
or command
it is you seek
when you speak and look at me.
Who the hell do you see
swimming upstream
in your river of five-dollar phrases
whose praises
are the ones you’d kill for?
Tell them your dream
in that language known by so few
and spoken by none

but, Poet –
send them the bill for
your rhyme-less scheme
and send it first-class, too
as soon as it’s done.
You get beyond my ken
you understand
------ I gotta run.

~ Ralph Murre

Here's a reminder -- we'll be reading at the New Harmony Coffee House in Appleton, Wisconsin, on Monday, November 2nd, at 6:30, I think. We promise not to get beyond your ken.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


late afternoon
late autumn
a shade of blue
~ arem

I'm proud to say that another of my pieces has been published at the excellent ezine "Haibun Today". Have a look at ~RM

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bringin' Up Bud

" . . . an' da two a' dem so young an' whadda dey know about da world an' now already dey gotta toddler an' what kinda Ad-Van-Tage kin dey ever give dat kid? No kind dat's what. But I tell ya, what's it matter, aina, Marge? What's it matter? I mean lookit what we did for our kids, huh? I mean lookit how dey turnt out ennaway. Ya do what watcha kin, Marge, but it's a crapshoot I'm tellin' ya, it's a crapshoot . . ."
~ RM

Monday, October 12, 2009

Looking Up


Does the sky today
with its twelve cranes
neatly folded and calling
in gourd-throated rattles
look something like the sky
on that Friday I was born?

That day in 1944
our 386th bomber squadron
hit a house in Belgium.

Was anyone home?
That’s important to know.
Were they aware
it was The Good War?
’cause that’s important to know.
And will folding a thousand cranes
really bring peace?
That’s important to know.

—Ralph Murre
first appeared in the Museletter of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets

Friday, October 09, 2009


Have some candy, my sweet.
No, it isn't medicine
and I never bring meat.
I'm your wonderful parent
after all,
so eat, eat.
Then we'll buy a plaything
for your right hand
and another for the other
and one for each ear.
Have some candy, my dear.
Now, what would you like --
A German car? An Italian bike?
I've a chocolate from Godiva.
Please, uhhh . . .
charge something to my Visa,
your D's a good enough grade.
You deserve a little treat --
more candy, my sweet?

~ Ralph Murre

Sunday, October 04, 2009


cranes calling
from the north
church bells
from the south
cranes win
~ arem

Sunday, September 27, 2009



He who travels on peninsulas must expect someday to to turn back.

~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Sure, you know about the red metal of common cents
and wires, its green patina inspires your sense of age,
and you’ve seen page and page of the Keweenaw’s
bardic sage talking of the Cliffs, but ‘til you’re there,
you don’t ask the what ifs, the copper-clad history
stiffs ya ‘til it stares ya in the face, this place evades
explaining term, not a germ of the thing comes through
‘til you stand on a zillion tons of rock broke and hauled
from shaft to light, this zillion ton blight a story of men.

Sure, you know, sure, you know, about the men –
the native men whose red metal was found on the ground,
the intruding men who showed the way to the deep dark
metallic middle-Earth toil, the Earth altering, never
faltering toil, the five-thousand foot down toiled rock,
the shock of Earth-rape tragedy, sure you know, sure.
About the men in Pittsburgh and Boston, lost in greenback
red-metal reverie and railroaded resource removal ‘til
it’s played-out and gone, ‘til it’s played out and gone.

Sure, you know, don’t you – about the Caesarian-section
birth from Earth of spirits unnamed, untamed – torn
with the red metal to the surface – left there in mourning
bourne of Earth-rape tragedy, warnings hidden now by
green drape raggedy forest recovery, winter morning
long-white snow-covery, oh, very well hidden warnings,
but stone rings mark spirits' homes and poems are writ
and hung in trees to appease these gods, these gods who
won’t be played out and gone in this little story of men.

- Ralph Murre
(first appeared in The Cliffs / Soundings)

I am an inveterate traveler on peninsulas, and a turner back. Of course, I've spent most of 40 years on one, but find myself continually drawn to other peninsulas of the Great Lakes, the Bruce, the Garden, the Keweenaw -- always comparing them to the Door, always asking "what if . . ." in the manner, I suppose, of travelers everywhere, newly enamored by their surroundings. If you think that my writing about the Keweenaw (see my post "U.P. North" from July '09) bears a streak of "don't throw me in that briar patch", you are quite perceptive. I rarely mention what's wonderful about the places I travel, because as Dave Engel said in a poem he read the other night in Calumet, "I don't want to see you there."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Whole Cloth

The latest from Little Eagle Press, and a very proud addition to our in-print list, is WHOLE CLOTH, by Ronnie Hess. The volume tells, in well-crafted verse and illustration, the story of Ms. Hess' exploration of her husband's genealogical roots and their subsequent transplantation onto American shores. "Roots" is the right term here, because they were hidden well underground and serious digging into the rocky soils of the Sub-Carpathian Rus' was required to unearth them. To tell such a tale would in itself be interesting, but hardly unique; to tell the tale in compelling poetry is a much greater challenge, and the one to which Ronnie Hess has risen admirably.

WHOLE CLOTH by Ronnie Hess, ISBN 978-0-9823419-5-7, 48 pp. 13 illus.
Available for $12 plus $3 s&h from:
Little Eagle Press
P.O. Box 684
Baileys Harbor, WI 54202

~ personal checks gladly accepted
~ book vendors: please inquire

Also available:
RED BOOTS by Michael Koehler
CROW INK by Sharon Auberle
BAR CODE anthology
PSALMS by Ralph Murre

Monday, September 14, 2009


So I'm sittin' at the counter
like always
not feelin' that chipper
sr. discount cuppa joe, black
like always
He comes in, starts yackin'
like always
givin' me the blow by blow, see
of how he squeeked out this victory
in a tough solitaire game
I say fer d'chrissake
why d'ya think they call it SOLITAIRE ???
n'why 'n hell aincha fishin'?
He says somethin' 'bout
his old lady's bum leg
like always
n' I say I didn't ask
why y'r old lady ain't fishin', y' putz
an' he's back with
the freezer's full anyhows
and why ain't YOU fishin'?
Aw, hell, I tell him
lookit today's special
Atlantic Cod, all you can eat
Can't afford fishin'
I tell him
pretty much
like always

~ Ralph Murre

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Weather Proof

But -- this little reality we've built
and shingled so carefully
to keep out the dreams --
can't we paint it a brighter color ?
~ RM

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Labor Day

Yeah, I'll write something about Labor Day, but I haven't much idea of what it means in this era. It's changed. We've changed.
I'm the son of a union carpenter and grew up in a time when a family could live pretty well on what ONE skilled craftsman brought home after a forty-hour week. We could celebrate the ability of American workers, we could sleep with full bellies under a leak-free roof purchased with fair wages fought for by organized labor. We had some notion of what Labor Day meant as we ate our slice of American Pie.
The slice, it appears to me, has shrunken considerably for the average working schmuck, even as the productivity of American workers hit an all-time high last month. Labor unions seem to be widely viewed as luxuries our society can no longer afford, in an age that allows easy exploitation of the world's most impoverished, wherever they are found, whatever form of slavery they can be forced into.
So, does the worker from the U.S. or any other rich, developed nation deserve more than one from a country teetering on starvation's brink? Of course not. But any worker, from anywhere, deserves some bit of dignity, some idea of parity, some ability to earn what it takes to feed, shelter, and clothe a healthy family. "Workers of the world, unite." they used to say, but "they" were commie bastards who are in some disfavor these days. Still, until it happens, we will only celebrate a meaningless Labor Day, with most of our picnic goodies supplied by the outsourcers as we wave American flags made in China (the home of ACTUAL commie bastards).
What do I know, viewing as I do, the working world from the safe distance of my Social Security dole? Not much. Not much. But I do see my children and grandchildren having, quite possibly, less opportunity than I had. Some of this, of course, is my own fault for believing that I, too, could work just forty hours per week. Some of it, though, is due to the devaluation of working people and of work, itself. And some of it makes Labor Day, for me, a bitter remembrance of a better time.

~ Ralph Murre

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Cliff

I 'm not much of a mountain climber (or a social climber, but that's not today's story) although I imagine that from time to time, when scaling a steep cliff, you must trust your tenuous hold and lean back for a bit, to refocus your energies and to survey the way ahead.
Yesterday, I leaned back. I fed my loyal Rozinante eight gallons of the good oats for which she repaid me with 432 miles of the grand beauty of this state when it is ripe for harvest. And I found solitude. So many miles without words beyond answering in the affirmative to "would you like fries with that" and later, a "Sure. Thanks." to the fellow ferry passenger who asked if I'd like him to snap the photo above, while we crossed The Wisconsin at Merrimac.
It was a cool and glorious day of the road. I relaxed my grip and didn't fall from my place on the face of this cliff.

the spotted cows
teaching rumination
their great wisdom
- Ralph Murre

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Moonrise Lake Michigan

with the same eyes
through the same glass
the same moon full again
but never so full
as when you were in its light
never that color
we couldn't name
illuminating our embrace
and all of me
singing all of you

- ralph murre

Thursday, August 20, 2009


In this one,
there's a manicured village
where the tiny steam train arrives
on time
at the gingerbread station,
the mountain children greet the summer visitors,
the yellow dog wags his yellow tail,
and the kindly station master
looks up from his work
to see the retiring kindergarten mistress
picking alpine flowers.
In the valley below,
a young man finds work
at the Messerschmitt plant.
It's all just wonderful.

~ Ralph Murre

Happy to include a new link to the blog of one of my great favorites; Jackie Langetieg, at .

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Summer Sky

Since my writing seems to have gone totally to hell, I thought I'd show you what I've been drawing.
~ Ralph Murre

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Boating in the Stream of Consciousness

I was photographing off Sherwood Point today, which of course got me to thinking about Sherwood Forest which of course got me to thinking about Robin Hood et al. Was there ever a boy who didn't identify with Old Rob, I wonder? Ever one who did identify with the Sheriff of Nottingham? Of course, both Mr. Hood and the Evil Fuzz lusted after Maid Marian, and though most of us were not fully aware of the nature of lust at the time we were reading these tales, we were pretty sure we wanted some . . . . But back to my premise about wanting to follow the lead of the merry bandit rather than the bad cop; if I'm right about the almost universal instinct of impressionable lads to side with the outlaw, (and American lore has its share of scofflaw heroes, too, including most of our founders and present-day leaders), then how do kids turn into cops? Or tax collectors? Even we tax & spend liberal pinkos hate tax collectors, although the collection of taxes made it possible to build the lighthouse that is so important to my photograph, which I made from across the bay, from a park and marina which was acquired and built with tax money. Even though I was able to be there because I'm receiving my social security, I still hate tax collectors. And the constabulary.

It's great to be able to say that my piece, "U.P. North", from a few posts back, now appears in the August issue of the excellent web mag, "Quill and Parchment", which is put together by Sharmagne Leland-St. John. You'll have to subscribe to get full access, but the magazine is well worth it. Take a (free) peek at the archives at

Monday, July 27, 2009


On the walls of this cave,
my paintings of the hunt
for the perfect excuse,
umber on dolomite illustrations
of my near-conquest of the fear of success.
Close to the fire,
where we might have huddled
and invented language,
my drawings of the vision
I hoped to have,
and in the deepest recesses,
the undervalued reliefs
which I carved in your absence
to commemorate the time
we were almost together.

Sometimes still,
the sputter of a torch
where I sketch.
Sometimes still,
the possibility
of dreaming.

~ Ralph Murre

"Graffiti" appeared in Crude Red Boat from Cross+Roads Press

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Side

The photo shows another side of the Keweenaw Peninsula, and has nothing whatsoever to do with another side of my writing, which I am proud to say appears at the excellent Haibun Today site, and to which this link may direct you >>> <<< (go there now)
~ RM

Sunday, July 19, 2009

U.P. North

south in green summer
around the foot of Green Bay
a green car turns north

As we’ve done before, and I’ve done before that, we point toward the Keweenaw – once copper rich, now dirt poor – the Upper Peninsula of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. North of Green Bay and the Fox Valley’s fortunate, farmlands fall away quickly, and so does any evidence of recent prosperity. Forest and bog slide by a million trees at a time and we get into the big land of Tookaway. Took away iron. Copper. Silver. Took away first-growth timber and First Nation people. Took away everything of value. But the invaluable remains, flourishes. The rivers flow. The trees grow. A few people eke out a life.
In Houghton, browned men and yellow machines dig at the pavement. The dirt. The history.

an old man walking
as if bearing a great weight
his soul enormous
through a thin jacket
against the cold of summer

The railroad tracks have been removed from the lift bridge to Hancock; the taking away complete. Quincy smelter ruins of the past fight for the right to co-exist with condos and other ruins of the present. Wavelets of blue water make a chuckling sound as they nibble at foundations.
Climb the long hill to Calumet. Behold glory gone so quickly there was barely time to screw-up its old quarters. Barely money to re-muddle the red-on-red stone and brick of the place, now deemed unsuitable for Mom, Pop & The Oh-So-Average Kids, but not yet vacated by the denizens of depression; the drunks, the drifters, the drop-outs.

from a red stone stoop
in Sunday morning brightness
his unshaven stare

In a nation that’s just getting back to hard times, behold a place that’s harbored them for a couple generations since the mines have played out. Behold the look of uncommon wealth gone away. We may all get used to it. But look at the handsome buildings left behind; left for the taking. Look at the epitaph of The Good Life. Look at the good folks fixing up in spite of churches out of business along with their parishioners, dance halls along with dancers, milliners with mills.

in an empty street
as if something might happen
a cameraman

Even some of the taverns have closed, unlikely as that may sound. Even some of the best of them. Elegant emporiums of leaded glass and leather-backed booths, of mahogany and madness. A few remain.

the darkened windows
with their neon signs gone out
Sunday morning bars

In the vacuum, after the great sucking sound of the removal of resources has subsided, come the artists and poets and other marginalized people with imagination, drawn by the low rent and high ceilings of the place, drawn by the Big Sea Shining Water so close at hand, the Woods, the Cliffs. Drawn by the very fact that this is a place away. They fix things, some. They fix more. It starts to get pretty nice. They win a few. They lose a few. If they win too many, they lose it all, because property values go up to the point they can no longer afford to stay. They find a new town, I suppose, and make it safe for realtors and re-zoning. In the meantime, Calumet is just the mix of heaven and hell that I like to visit when I can.
May our friends, the fixer-uppers on the Keweenaw Peninsula, stay ahead of the forces of gravity, entropy, and the tearer-downers; but not so far ahead as have our friends on that over-priced peninsula of Wisconsin, which we call home.

south in green summer
around the foot of Green Bay
a green car returns

~ Ralph Murre

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Like a Bridge

The thing about a bridge - The Golden Gate, The Mackinac, Brooklyn, London, Pont Neuf, or Monet's Garden - the thing about a bridge is that its utility is lost on no one; its symbolism is lost on no one. It is as pure and straightforward a thing as mankind has created. Is it in spite of, or because of that, I wonder, that there are so many designs, so many ways of solving what is, essentially, the same problem? Oh, I know any engineer would tell me, rightly, that each is a unique problem, but my point is that 100 engineers would design a hundred different bridges to get the same path across the same same stream. Vive la difference!
A bridge, a home, a lighthouse, a fireplace, an airplane - all utilitarian things that also have tremendous symbolism, and all have been designed in almost as many ways as have snowflakes or pebbles on a beach - alike, but not alike.
I suppose I'm writing not about bridges at all, but about the beauty of the human mind; about whatever is that instinct that makes us want to create, to BE, something different.
Perhaps we should celebrate our difference with each bridge we cross.
~ Ralph Murre

Thursday, July 09, 2009


detail of image from Como Park, St. Paul ~ don't know who the artist is

"See Spot run," they said, and I did, but noted that he couldn't change his spots. Could he spot six differences between the drawings, I wondered, could he find the G-spot, could he spot me a C-note, or at least a 10-spot? Was his high-C spot-on? Should he have been in the spotlight? Could he spot a stoplight? If he were bathed really well would he be Spotless, or would he still be seeing spots? My memory is a bit spotty on this point.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


So you're telling Jolly Old England the affair is off. Good for you. Good for you. She's got kind of a lot invested in your little Wild West show, though. She's gonna fight y'for it and it could get kinda nasty. And she is family. In the end, you're still gonna love her, y'know. You're still gonna love her people, wierd as they are. You'll still want to help her out if she's in a scrape. But go ahead n'tell her, if that's what you've got to do. Go ahead n'tell her.

~ Ralph Murre

Monday, June 29, 2009


the notion of gravity
gains credence
as you fall
the notion of levity
as you rise
again and again

~ RM

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Remembering Arvin

Photograph probably by Laura Murre
he was a boxer
and a pacifist
a socialist
who married a republican
a tireless worker
taken by naps
a short man
who stood tall
a whistler of his own tune
a rider of the rails
and one-time cowboy
a distruster of words
and teller of stories
a speedskater
a carpenter
given to long walks
a counselor
given to short talks
he was just kid enough
to be my old man
~ Ralph Murre

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Red Boots & A Grin

Mike Koehler, at the inaugural reading from his book, "Red Boots",(see my post from June 4th) was swarmed by some who were already shoe-ins for most-favored-woman status, but sought to enhance their position. Here, Sharon Auberle and Ellen Kort vie for Crimson Cowgirl honors. It appears that the three poets had a reasonably good time.
~ Ralph Murre

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

hey, barkeep

dat's sumkinda fish y'got dere
not s'big as da one I pert'near caught a coupla years ago
but dat's sumkinda fish

Thursday, June 04, 2009

What's Up

" So what's up at Little Eagle Press?", you ask - or maybe you don't - but I'll tell you anyway:

We here at Little Eagle Press – no, truthfully – I here at Little Eagle Press, am wildly proud to announce publication of the first book to receive the press’ R. M. Arvinson Manuscript of the Year Award. The book is Michael Koehler’s RED BOOTS, a collection from one of Wisconsin’s finest, which leads the reader through a good bit of Koehler’s life - his longings, his triumphs, his blues. Women. Brothers. The road. The loss of a father and the finding of a poet.
Michael Koehler seems to find the poem wherever he looks, but takes it home and polishes it beautifully before putting it on display. Somehow, he does this without losing a feeling of immediacy, a sense of conversation. Here's the first poem in the book:

Let me give you this:
Tall prairie grass humming like old women
gathered to quilt their long memories into
a tan and green and dark brown field
where, underneath, small things can be warm as the sun on sumac.
Take this, too:
The sky a peerless blue,
high clouds rippled like the flesh of walleye.
And here, in my heart,my love, one leaf that never falls,
waving like an anthem,
keeping the bare tree rooted to the earth.

There are poems here that will stay with you; poems that I believe will become a part of you. The book contains a rather handsome 82 pages, including 17 of my own pen & ink drawings inspired by this manuscript.

You may order RED BOOTS, by Michael Koehler, for $12. plus $3. s&h from:
Little Eagle Press
P.O. Box 684
Baileys Harbor, WI, USA 54202
Personal checks cheerfully accepted, until I get stung.
Thank you,
~ Ralph Murre

Currently available from Little Eagle Press:
RED BOOTS by Michael Koehler ISBN: 978-0-9823419-4-0 $12 plus $3 s&h
CROW INK by Sharon Auberle ISBN: 978-0-9823419-3-3 $15 plus $3 s&h
A SLENDER THREAD (2nd ed.) anthology by the Nota Bene Group
ISBN: 978-0-9823419-2-6 $12 plus $3 s&h
BAR CODE anthology ISBN: 978-0-9823419-1-9 $15 plus $3 s&h
PSALMS by Ralph Murre ISBN: 978-0-9823419-0-3 $12 plus $3 s&h

BOOKSELLERS: Please inquire about wholesale rates.

And if you're not already following Mike's blog ( , wake up!

A first impression of Red Boots, this from t.k. splake, the Bard of the Keweenaw
read and enjoyed the murre – little eagle press – title RED BOOTS, and of course the ‘title poem’ was a literary given, helluva fine verse, but, for tommy (the splake-smith) I liked as well the koehler poem “road trip,” which may say something about my bardic personality, red trippin’ ohhhhhhhhhh and yes,
and, goddammit, and, goddammit, the murre artwork was a plus, just as fine, nay excellent as the michael writings, more more more in the future, I AM HOPING, noticed that you are a pilot pen man, precise v-5, well, I buy my pilot razor sharp ii pens by the dozen, eh, I have this thing about pilot ii’s,
sun shining birds singing did the CLIFFS at first dawn, sore piggies and all, and same tomorrow, if there is not a serious chance of precip, again kudos and congrats on RED BOOTS – poetry and drawings

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Greatest

While I live about 100 yards from a perfectly acceptable Great Lake, every now and then I take it in mind to go feel the cool breath of THE GREATEST. And the breath of Mother Superior was indeed cool this time. Set off yesterday on my mighty Rozinante at about 1:00 PM and rode ~ spent the night in Jim Harrison country ~ and was home by 3:30 PM today. Slew no dragons, didn't even see windmills. There were lighthouses. Derelict vessels. A really big lake. There was cold and rain, in tolerable doses. There was food and drink in tolerable doses.
a motorcycle
in the Michigan morning
of blossoms and rain
So why ride well over 500 miles to spend so little time with the object of my affection? The ride, my friends, the ride. It is a new season, and I rode to where it is even newer, backing up time just a little bit. That's enough for me.

~ RM

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Things Alone

Things alone come to me.
The red dancing shoe I saw
alone in the winding roadway
of the Appalachian Gap.
The blue workman's glove
alone in a Calumet backalley.
A black-clad widow,
her chair in the street
of a Tarpon Springs afternoon.
Now this saxophone,
its voice in the night
of Hennepin Avenue,
one dollar and change
in the torn green lining
of the open case
at my feet.

~ Ralph Murre

Saturday, May 16, 2009

night truck

the night truck
speeds in from the east coast
drops off morning
crosses the mississippi
- rm

Sunday, May 10, 2009

To Laura, gone now

Aw jeez, Ma, I miss ya somethin' terrible.

Was There a Poem?

In her dark hands that milked cows and made lace,
hands that fixed tractors and wiped tears?
A poem in the dark hands
that built houses and kept them, that worked the earth
and folded to a heaven she was sure of?
Hands that hammered out justice and
handed out calloused caresses,
those hands that labored at the piano,
but changed flat tires with ease?

Was there a song in her dark eyes
that laughed easy, but cried hard;
eyes that saw good wherever it hid?
Eyes that struggled in darkness
to read the verses and read them again
until she saw light in the words?
A song in the dark eyes that bid me welcome,
the colorless eyes that I bid goodbye?

Was there a portrait in her dark face?

- Ralph Murre

(appeared in Crude Red Boat, from Cross+Roads Press)

Friday, May 08, 2009

An Open Relationship

photo by Dana Tynan

I was just looking, with justified admiration, at the photo of Joan Baez on the cover of her great autobiography "And a Voice to Sing With", when I found I had to explain that Joan and I have been together for a long time. Since before the sixties turned into THE SIXTIES, in fact. Oh, we've had an open relationship, to be sure - I'm OK with the fact that she's had other lovers, and she's never said a word about my infidelities - but she's always been there when I've needed her, which has been pretty often. Those times when I needed somebody with some heart, some guts, some brains, and a voice to sing with.

Maintaining a long-lasting relationship is easier, I suppose, when one of the partners is totally unaware of the existence of the other, as she is unaware of me, but she's been true to the spirit of our romance, and I am happy. I can only ask what great love is without its little oddness ? Her book talks of the old days, and of her waiting in a dream for Marlon Brando to come along and swoop her up on his Wild-One Harley. About the same time, as it turns out, I was living in Northern Cal and was waiting in a dream for Joan to pick me up along Hwy. 101 in her Jaguar. I mean, what else did she have to do?

Years later, after demonstrating the courage to stand up to some of the nastiest offenders of all that is holy, she came to sing in the little auditorium of the barely one-horse Midwestern town where I live, so I went to hear her, and to be in the same room with one of the great heroes of my life. I sent flowers backstage, but lacked the courage to try to meet her. Our relationship is still unflawed by an actual introduction. I've heard that love knows no bounds, so I'm not sure what this is. But it's something like love.

~ Ralph Murre

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Sex in the City

The Sam Laud Enters Green Bay
The great vessel
after giving signal
and receiving signal
nudges strong and gentle
and slow
so slow
into the draw
and up the dark flow
a long and two short
and deep moans
Colored light
all around
~ Ralph Murre

Monday, April 27, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dangerous Machinery

in remembrance . . .

A Brief History of Our Products


there were times of dangerous machinery.

Inquire of a Native American.

Ask a Jew.

Maybe a Cambodian could fill you in.

A Tutsi, if you can find one,

might know a little about it.

And do ask around when you're in Dresden

or Hiroshima.

Things used to get out of hand.

But you can relax now,

the new model is vastly improved,

(Dozens of changes for 2009!)

and we do not expct anyn prbolems.


Jsuttt st. bacccck & rlx. ax.xxxzt***Lax

~ Ralph Murre

a great or complete devastation or destruction, esp. by fire.
a sacrifice completely consumed by fire; burnt offering.
(usually initial capital letter) the systematic mass slaughter of European Jews in Nazi concentration camps during World War II (usually prec. by the).
any mass slaughter or reckless destruction of life.